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Thoughts, Opinions and Suggestions From 2014 MLB All-Star Week


Over the last few years, I've grown a bit disappointed or even disgruntled with the handling of the MLB All-Star game. Not in part of the usual topics some grumble and complain about (e.g. Game deciding home field advantage, selection of All-Stars, Every team is represented, etc...) but because I truly felt that the league and FOX, dropped the ball on the event. Both were to blame in my opinion.

However, this year was different, as the 2014 MLB All-Star Week was truly enjoyable. For two straight nights (not three, but more on that in a bit) I came home from work and planted myself on the couch for the festivities. Regardless of ratings, after the past two days, I still feel MLB has the best - yes, the best - All-Star Game in sports. You can keep the Pro Bowl (I can't believe people watch that), the NHL All-Star Game, and even the joke that is the NBA ALL-Star Game.

With that said, here are some of the thoughts, notes, and yes, suggestions I came away with from the 2014 MLB All-Star Break. 

Scheduling Change

I know, I know, not exactly leading off with a positive but this one is a biggie. Did anyone know Sunday's Future's Game happened? Or even, when it happened? The fact that baseball has this game occur on Sunday, when some regular season games are going on is baffling to me. Especially, in an age of sabermetrics, advanced stats, and the incomparable hope of and for prospects, why wouldn't or isn't this game featured?

In today's game where young players rule the sport and are in demand more than ever, fans want to see the stars of tomorrow, now. After all, it's the "Future's" Game, right? Cubs fans want to see the stud that is Kris Bryant and their other prized prospect in Javier Baez. So do baseball fans. Or how about Houston's Domingo Santana, Cleveland's Francsico Lindor, or even the Yankees slugging prospect of Peter O'Brien? 

Again, the Future's Game should be featured. So here is what I propose: 

No more Sunday games before the All-Star Break. I know TV deals are the be-all-end-all in sports business, but seriously, the idea is ridiculous (Looking at you ESPN!). Let's move the Future's Game to Sunday night in that very same ESPN Sunday Night time slot to kick of the All-Star week. And since ESPN loves in-game interviews, you can make this game a very open and free-flowing access for interviews with past players, Hall of Fame inductees, All-Stars, and even some of the new kids currently playing.

Also, let's move the celebrity game prior to the Future's Game and have it air on the MLB Network. I know, it's not a huge deal, but I caught some of it as I kept it on as background noise as I punched the keys on some other topics. Shockingly, it was really entertaining. No, no, I swear, really, it was. 

Speaking of scheduling changes, can we shorten the Home Run Derby? The kid in me still loves the event, and I know Bud Selig has stated "TV contractual rights obligates them to fill three hours of TV" (Thanks, again ESPN), but after the first round, the event begins to drag. Speaking of Home Run Derby...

Revamp Home Run Derby Broadcast

"Revamp Home Run Derby Broadcast". Translation: ESPN, Please remove Chris Berman. 


I've never been a fan of Berman, and I thought this feeling was just me, but when "Chris Berman" trended for the entire broadcast, I quickly learned not many others do either. No offense to Berman, but he's stale, boring, and the whole "back, back, back..." is tired. It's like he doesn't even try. I honestly watched the Derby on a very, very, very low volume. I can take John Kruk, but the both of them together REALLY hurts the presentation. 

The broadcast needs a personality who is truly passionate about it. Someone that has a fans perspective and reaction to what is a really cool event. My pick, Harold Reynolds. Just bloggin. 

Jose Bautista of the...Yankees?

Miami, Florida, whatever,  it's the Marlins. We got it, ESPN.

Also, what was up with the obvious (and many) graphical mistakes? Again, think ESPN would ever do this with any NFL broadcasts? 

Other Notes

 - Cespedes is an absolute monster. It's actually quite fun to see the Cubans flood the game with immense talent. Baseball is such a melting pot right now, it's beautiful to watch. Just my opinion, the game is harder now and more competitive now than it ever has been before.

- Of course, I was pulling for Jose Bautista in the Home Run Derby. Bautisita just happens to be a follower of the DP in Twitterland and reader of this very small slice of the internet called Dome Pondering. I know, who knew, right? Joey Bats put on a display in the first round, but like many do, tired out as the competition moved on.
  
- This is quite obvious, but Giancarlo "Don't Call Me Mike" Stanton was the star of the night. Again, baseball really needs to start making these guys household names. Derek Jeter shouldn't be the only one, especially at forty and in his last season.

- It was nice to see a guy like Todd Frazier make it to the finals. Also, it was truly weird to see him beat Stanton with only one home run in the semis. I like the new format change to make it league vs. league in the final, but the second round seems unnecessary. How about the top two to from each league moves on after the first round, then the finals occur. But I know, you have to fill three hours...blah, blah, blah.


- You know what I want to see during the Home Run Derby? I want to see each contestant allowed one swing with an aluminum bat? Stanton + Aluminum bat = RATINGS! Hand out helmets in the outfield, possibly glasses, because that dude would send lasers out there. OK, yes, bad joke...moving on.


- FOX deserves tons of credit for their presentation of the All-Star Game. In years past the broadcast felt flat, with little pomp and circumstance to make the event feel like the big deal it should be. With Harold Reynolds (HAROLD!), Tom Verducci, and John Buck, the booth felt alive. Not to mention the pre-game interviews, the opening video package, the heavily mic'ed field, the in-game chats with Jeter, and even quickly clearing up "pipegate" with Adam Wainright were nice additions to the experience. FOX was on the ball (no pun intended). Of course, with FOX Sports 1 now in the fold and carrying the banner, they have to be. But nonetheless, kudos to everyone that worked on that broadcast.

- With that said, I will say, that opening segment with John Buck randomly walking into the American League locker room was awkward, and of course, the players reacted as such. You just had to love Jeter and Cano telling Buck, "get outta here, we have a game to play". Damn right. Get out John!

- Of course, when it comes to the MLB and NBA All-Star Games, I'm such a geek about the apparel and footwear that is on display. Some don't care for it, but I'm all about it.

Yup, pretty sweet batting gloves
 - Brian Dozier's Captain America batting gloves were awesome.


- Tulowtizki's neon look was just as cool. Actually, it was boss. Loved it. 


- I also found Jose Altuve's cleats to be a good look. Speaking of Altuve, how awesome is the story about him being sent home at a camp because he was too small, just to show up the next day again to prove himself? Great stuff. 


- I know many Yankees tend to go white cleats for All-Star Games. Probably because it's their chance to stand out and break away for a bit from under the strict Yankee uniform policy. But the Jordan brand, who followed up a tremendous release of the #RE2PECT commercial, did a great job on the cleats for Jeter which commemorated his All-Star appearances.

- And speaking of Jeter, the entire night couldn't have been better for him. From the diving stop and almost getting Andrew McCutchen out at first, to the leadoff double just as some fan shouted "overrated" (how appropriate was that?) as the pitch came in, Jeter put his stamp on the game. Of course, walking of the field for the last time was a true All-Star moment we will never forget. Nothing over the top, but a classy moment for Jeter.


- CBS should be ashamed of themselves. Especially, who ever sent out that tweet. Michael Jeter, pshhh....

- As for "pipegate" and Adam Wainwright, it's really not a big issue. First of all, Wainwright should have never even gone down that road, joking or not. Secondly, someone please tell me how 90MPH is "grooving"  pitch. If that's the case, show me how to "groove" pitches as well. Regardless, Clayton Kershaw should have started the game anyway. 


- Oh yeah, Mike Trout's cleats were awesome too. So awesome. I actually hope these are made into sneakers. I'm such a huge fan of Trout. The kid is must-see-TV. Again, wake up MLB! If he ever dons pinstripes, I may cry, but that ain't ever happening, and it shouldn't. If it does, the Angels should be shut down as an organization. Ether way, I thought it was fitting that Trout walked away with the All-Star MVP on a night the league thanked it's former face for a wonderful career. And yes, I'm leading the "Trout for Face of MLB" campaign.

- Also, solid choice by Trout on choosing the "Vette" over the truck. Momma Trout really wanted that Corvette, huh? 

- The Twins battery of Suzuki and Perkins in the ninth was a nice touch by manager John Ferrell. Minnesota has a great fanbase which oddly gave Carlos Gomez, now a Brewer, a standing ovation for his time in the Twin cities.

- In regards to the Tony Gwynn controversy of some feeling it was disrespectful of MLB to not acknowledge him or have some type of moment for him during the game, I completely agree with MLB's stance noted in their statement released to day. Paraphrasing, MLB felt with so many deaths in baseball this year including Ralph Kiner, Don Zimmer, Tony Gwynn, and many more, it wouldn't be fair to single one out over the others. However, in today's world of everyone having a negative opinion, so it goes...

- As for the game itself, it was a joy and was very, very entertaining. I love a great pitched game, but the offense early on helped this All-Star Game a lot. I still think managers substitute too many guys. Everyone doesn't need to play. And pitchers need to go more than one inning. 

- Finally, I'm not a huge fan of the "winner earns home field for the World Series" gimmick, but you cannot deny it is surely better than the "alternating" stipulation before it. To be honest, it causes everyone to tune in and at least talk about it. "Game One of the World Series" was trending immediately following the final out. From that aspect, you can't argue with MLB's perspective. 

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